The mayoral election in New York City will happen on November 2nd of this year, where either Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee, or Curtis Sliwa, the Republican nominee – will take on the responsibility of becoming the city’s 110th mayor.
At this time, Eric Adams is strongly favored to come out as the winner given the 6 to 1 advantage of Democratic to Republican voters registered in New York City. I wanted to take a look at some possible effects that Eric Adams’ policies could have on the development of New York City, the commercial real estate market, and the overall recovery from the pandemic.
Spiking Crime Rates
One of the biggest ongoing problems is the spiking crime rate. What seems notable is that looking at crime statistics from 2020, NYPD noted a historic low in overall crime when it comes to the total number of incidents, as compared to the year before – but this seemingly good trend was overwhelmed by a 97% increase in shootings and a 44% increase in the number of murders. Burglaries increased by 42% and car thefts increased by 67%. This is all very troubling for New York City.
The unprecedented events that took place in 2020 posed major challenges for the NYPD. From a greatly diminished police force to large-scale protests that the city had to try and calm – NYPD’s resources were stretched thin.
Looking at statistics from 2021 so far as compared to last year – murders have increased by 17%, robbery has decreased by 6%, assaults are up about 8% and burglary is down 16%. While there has been a marginal improvement in a few categories, the worst types of crimes are still seeing upticks in numbers – and this is creating major cause for concern for businesses and residents alike, who are looking to return to New York City.
Both Candidates Tough on Crime
Both mayoral candidates represent great choices from the perspective of fighting the rising crime rate in New York City. Eric Adams is a retired police officer who served the New York Police Department for 22 years, and he has made it clear that he would like to put more officers on the street and bring back undercover anti-crime units, all while protecting black communities and working to unite people in a common goal of keeping the neighborhoods safe for everyone.
Curtis Sliwa has an equally long history of fighting crime in New York City. In 1977, he created a group called the “Magnificent 13” which was dedicated to fighting violence and crime on the New York City subways – this group was renamed “Guardian Angels” in 1979. Many decades later, they are still active today with Curtis Sliwa as the group’s leader. As it happens, I ran into him in September of last year where he was gracious enough to give me a short interview. I’ll play it for you now.
I hope that you can get a sense of why he ended up winning as the Republican nominee for the mayor of New York City. Being involved in street patrols for around 40 years and talking to people from all walks of life on the radio program that he has run for 30 years, has given him an excellent perspective into New York City’s ongoing problems with crime.
Reassuring New York City’s Business Community
Now, whichever candidate ends up winning – the city will need to do a lot more work to prove to its business community that they have the city’s support. To that end, Eric Adams has already started to seek an alliance with several of the city’s most influential business leaders. His attempt to start a dialogue with the business community contrasts the approach of Mayor Bill de Blasio who battled with New York City’s business leaders for years. Bill de Blasio has called for raising taxes for the wealthy and has seemingly ignored suggestions from prominent businesses when it comes to handling the Covid pandemic.
Kathryn Wylde, the CEO of “Partnership for New York City” – a non-profit pro-business group, has indicated that Eric Adams has contacted her after he won the primary, saying that he wanted to hear her ideas on how to create a better relationship between City Hall and business leaders in New York City. It’s important for people to understand that New York cannot thrive without the support of large companies that provide the majority of corporate tax income for the city, as well as having them help employ a major part of the city’s 8.5 million people. A situation that forces them to rethink their presence in New York may very well be detrimental for the future of the city, and the mayoral nominee’s willingness to hear ideas from all sides of the table is a refreshing turn of events.
Talking about her experience with Eric Adams, Kathryn Wylde has mentioned that “The fact that he’s focused on public safety, good management, data-driven management and creating a business-friendly and wealthy-friendly climate” are all factors that have encouraged executives to speak to Adams. She also added that “We haven’t heard that message in many years.”
From a Commercial Real Estate Perspective
A spokesman for Adams, Evan Thies has also said that “In order to grow our economy and recover from Covid so that the unemployed and working-class New Yorkers can prosper, Eric believes it is critical to creating a positive business environment for economic partners who will provide the jobs, training, and internships New Yorkers need,”
From a commercial real estate perspective – the safety of the city plays a major role that determines where and for how long a prospective tenant may choose to enter into a leasing agreement with a landlord. If tenants feel that the future of the city is uncertain, there will be a temptation to sign shorter-term leases and reduce their overall investment into their presence in New York City. This is especially true of ground-level retail stores, which have more to lose in the event of unrest or a spike in local crimes.
We all want to see ground-level stores get cleaned up, empty office space leased, and to have the experience of enjoying a vibrant and friendly New York City once again. It may be tempting to blame the landlords for not yielding on square footage prices as much as tenants would prefer, but the safety and business climate of the city is just as important when it comes to motivating companies to come back and fill the New York City’ vacant commercial office space. Reducing the crime rates is particularly important for the recovery of retail commercial real estate.
So, there you have it. Perhaps it’s still too early to be optimistic about a major change in public safety and business policies in New York, but both of the current mayoral nominees are likely to influence the development of New York City in positive ways.